2008 Iraq War supplemental funding bill

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The Bush administration originally requested $197 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in Fiscal Year (FY) 2008, of which the Democratic-led Congress approved $88 billion. (The federal government's fiscal year begins Oct. 1 of the previous year, so FY2008 starts Oct. 1, 2007 and runs through Sept. 30, 2008). President Bush had indicated he anticipated needing another $70 billion for the first part of FY 2009.[1]

In April, 2008, Democratic leaders of the House and Senate prepared to tackle the remaining FY 2008 funding requested by Bush, as well as the FY2009 request, in one supplemental funding bill.[1] That would put the next decision on war funding well into the new Congress and presidential administration.

In addition to the war funding, the Democratic leadership in Congress prepared to include up to $24 billion domestic spending priorities within the supplmental, including:

  • $10 billion for transportation infrastructure projects
  • $490 million in local law enforcement grants
  • $500 million for the World Food Programme
  • $350 million for wildfire suppression programs[1]

Extended unemployement insurance, first proposed as part of the 2008 economic stimulus package, were also a discussed for inclusion in the war-spending measure.[1] The Bush administration, however, threatened to veto any spending bill that included non-war-related funding.[1]

<USbillinfo congress="110" bill="H.R.2642" />

Key House votes - May 2008

In May 2008, the House leadership split the supplemental into three amendments, forcing votes on troop withdrawal language, domestic spending priorities (including expanded unemployment assistance and new education benefits for veterans) and the funding for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. President George W. Bush threatened to veto the measure due to its cost and because it strayed from a pure funding mechanism for the wars.[2]

Iraq and Afghanistan war funding

Blaming Democrats for drafting the legislation behind closed doors and allowing little time for review, 131 House Republicans voted "present" when the amendment regarding war funding was called. As a result, the House-passed version of the bill traveled to the Senate without money for troops.[2]

<USvoteinfo year="2008" chamber="house" rollcall="328" />

Troop withdrawal timelines

The second part of the bill, which was approved by 227-196, included:

  • Troop withdrawals from Iraq required to begin within 30 days; a goal of all combat troops removed by December 2009.
  • Rest periods between deployments for U.S. soldiers.
  • An effective ban on torture, accomplished by requiring that all government agencies (including intelligence services like the Central Intelligence Agency) follow the Army Field Manual's interrogation rules.
  • Requiring the Iraqi government to match - 1 for 1 - U.S. funding for reconstruction and to sell fuel to U.S. armed forces at the same price offered to Iraqi civilians.

<USvoteinfo year="2008" chamber="house" rollcall="329" />

"New GI bill," unemployment insurance and other domestic spending

The House of Representatives approved domestic spending in the bill by a 256-166 margin. The amendment included funding for many programs, including:

The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (H.R. 5740) expands the military's education assistance program for veterans. Supporters have said the bill aims to fill gaps in the current program by including veterans who served in the National Guard and Reserves. In addition, it would roughly double the benefit provided to veterans. In May, 2008, Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives included the bill as an amendment to an appropriations act (H.R. 2642).
Main article: 2008 G.I. Bill

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) and Rep. Phil English (R-Penn.) introduced Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation Act of 2008 (H.R.5749), which would extend emergency unemployment compensation for 13 weeks beyond the 26 weeks already authorized under law. Also, states with the highest unemployment rates - of 6% or higher, such as Alaska and Rhode Island - would be eligible for an additional 13 weeks.

This bill is similar to the unemployment assistance included in the 2008 Iraq Funding bill.

Main article: Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation Act of 2008

<USvoteinfo year="2008" chamber="house" rollcall="330" />

Key Senate votes - May 2008

Following the House's action on the funding supplemental, the Senate took up the measure and approved of the war funding and more than $10 billion in domestic spending. The chamber voted down House language that called for troops reductions in Iraq.[3]

"New GI bill," unemployment insurance and other domestic spending

A number of Republicans joined Democrats in approving expanded unemployment benefits and the new G.I. bill. According to the Washington Post, the measure also included $10 billion in "heating subsidies for the poor, wildfire fighting, roads and bridge repair, and health research." The domestic spending was approved by a veto-proof 75-22 margin.[3]

The Senate version did not, however, include a .05% surtax for individuals earning more than $500,000 or for joint filers earning more than $1 million. The surtax was approved by the House, and would have raised $54 billion over 10 years to pay for the veterans’ benefits.[4]

<USvoteinfo year="2008" chamber="senate" rollcall="137" />

Iraq and Afghanistan war funding

The Senate voted 70-26 to reinsert $165 billion in spending for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- funding which was stripped from the House version of the bill. The money, $28 billion more than requested by the administration, will support operations through the first several months in 2009.[3]

<USvoteinfo year="2008" chamber="senate" rollcall="138" />

Troop withdrawal timelines

While anti-war Democrats in the House were able to muster the votes to endorse withdrawal language in their bill, the Senate disapproved, voting 64-34 to strip nix the measure.[3]

<USvoteinfo year="2008" chamber="senate" rollcall="139" />

Final passage

House Democrats and Bush cut deal in June 2008

On June 18, 2008, House Democratic leaders and President Bush agreed on a package that the leaders would bring to the House floor and Bush would not veto. The bill contained $162 billion for the wars, a reduction in domestic spending from the House-passed version, no tax increases and no timelines for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.[5]

The Democratic leadership split the bill into two parts, thus letting Democrats voting against funding the war funding and Republicans vote against the domestic spending.[5]

The war funding vote:

<USvoteinfo year="2008" chamber="house" rollcall="431" />

The domestic spending vote:

The domestic spending side, which cost $2.11 billion, included:

  • Appropriated $8.48 billion for natural disaster relief and recovery, including $5.99 billion for construction of flood prevention and protection structures in Louisiana and $2.84 billion for flood assistance in Midwestern states.
  • Allowed an individual with an emergency unemployment compensation to receive either 50 percent of the total regular compensation of an individual's benefit year or 13 times the individual's average weekly benefit amount for that year (Sec. 4002). (This extends unemployment insurance benefits for 13 months.)
  • The "new GI bill: Allowed a veteran who has served an aggregate of 36 months or 30 continuous days of active duty after September 11, 2001 to receive a full scholarship for in-state tuition at a public university, a monthly housing stipend, and a lump sum each term for books and supplies (Sec. 5003). Also provides that members of the Armed Forces who have served at least six years and agree to serve four more may transfer 18 to 36 months of their educational assistance entitlements to their spouse or children (Sec. 5003).
  • Allowed the President to waive sanctions against economic or military assistance to North Korea (Sec. 1405).
  • Provided $400 million for Mexico and $65 million for Central America to combat drug trafficking (Sec. 1406-1407).[5][6]

<USvoteinfo year="2008" chamber="house" rollcall="432" />

Final passage by Senate in June 2008

On June 26, the Senate voted 92-6 in support of the $257.5 billion legislation, which included funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, extended unemployment insurance, and the new veterans education benefit. The House had already approved the same bill on June 20, 416 to 12.[7]

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Josh Rogin, David Clarke, and Liriel Higa, "Huge War Supplemental in Works", CQ Politics, April 16, 2008
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Jonathan Weisman, "War Funding Bill Stalls in House", The Washington Post, May 16, 2008
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Andrew Taylor, "Senate deals Bush a defeat on Iraq war spending", Guardian (Associated Press), May 22, 2008
  4. David Clarke and Liriel Higa, "War bill delayed until after recess", CQ POlitics, May 22, 2008
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Paul Kane, "House, Bush Reach Deal on War Funds," Washington Post, June 19, 2008.
  6. Project Vote Smart's vote synopsis of House roll call vote 432.
  7. Paul Kane, "Senate Passes Broad War Funding Measure," The Washington Post, May 22, 2008

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